I just read the dumbest book. So dumb that I’m almost embarrassed to tell you about it. A colleague gave me “The 4-Hour Work Week.” He purchased it out of curiosity after reading of it on Steve Rubel’s blog. Steve gave 4HWW a decent review, which puzzles me. But it was the book’s promotion campaign that prompted PR’s top blogger to write about it.
You see, 4HWW was marketed exclusively through social media. And the campaign worked, turning Tim Ferriss’ first book into a best-selling self-help/get-rich-quick manual. The book presents a nifty little fantasy the author claims to be living. Ferriss then entices you to jettison your miserable, meaningless, 9-to-5 existence to join what he calls the “New Rich.” Some may see it as a sirens’ song for the 21st Century, but don’t bother lashing yourself to the mast. And if you want a fantasy, read Harry Potter.
Why even mention 4HWW if I hated it so? Because even the dumbest book will offer a few lessons. Here the sum of what I took from 4HWW.
Lesson #1: Information overload is counterproductive. OK we know this. But what are we doing to reduce unnecessary reading? Ferriss says he stopped reading newspapers or consuming MSM altogether. To get his bearings on world affairs, he simply asks his friends to tell him what’s happening out there. Now there’s a way to build an informed democracy!
Still, he’s right about overload. I read way too much. So for starters, I’ve resolved to never again read self-help or get-rich-quick books that I learn about in social media. I’m also swearing off everything by Seth Godin, but I made that resolution 5 minutes after I finished Purple Cow. Remarkable, eh?
But here’s the most painful news: I’m cutting my feeder to 25 “must read” sites. I welcome your suggestions as to which blogs a PR educator should always read. You can see many of my favs on the blogroll to your right.
Lesson #2: Email interruptions kill productivity. Another obvious point, right? But what have you done to stem the email tide? I’m taking Ferriss’ advice and turning off that annoying ping feature that alerts me every time a message arrives. After that, I’ll check email just once a day — probably mid-afternoon. Ditto for Facebook. I can feel the productivity climbing already.
Meetings are death. Avoid them. Yep. I knew this long before Dilbert showed me the truth. So beginning next month, I resolve to attend only meetings with clear agendas, clear objectives and set time frames.
Granted, that’s easy to say when you’re a tenured professor. It’s not easy to do. Avoiding unproductive meetings in my world is like dodging bullets on the firing range. There’s a meeting for every occasion in academe, morning, noon and night. Most are long and uninspiring. And the people who call them almost never bring pizza. What’s up with that?
So there it is — all the wisdom I took from 4HWW in a few paragraphs. Buy this book if you’re self-centered and hate your job and your life. On second thought, use the money to buy lottery tickets and I’ll give you my copy of 4HWW. I’m certainly not putting it on the bookshelf where somebody might see it.